The head of Oregon OSHA has suggested raising fines for serious workplace safety violations. But some large companies say higher fines won’t make them any safer.
Dan Kavanaugh, vice president and general manager with Turner Construction Co. in Oregon, told the Daily Journal of Commerce, “Money is not the motivator. A fine doesn’t mean anything to us.”
Dan Johnson, vice president of operations for Sakanska USA, agrees. “If they raised fines, would that become a motivation? I’m thinking ‘no.'”
However, Johnson says higher fines could be big financial hits for small and mid-sized construction companies.
Oregon OSHA administrator Michael Wood realizes that the fines he’s proposing still wouldn’t have a significant impact on the largest companies.
Wood is considering setting the cap for the most severe violations at $7,000. Now, it’s $5,000.
When a state OSHA inspects a company after a fatality, even the $5,000 fines can add up.
Recently, Oregon OSHA announced penalties totaling $90,000 against ConAgra Foods and a company performing repairs at a ConAgra plant in connection with an incident in which a welder was killed.
Wood acknowledges that ConAgra’s portion of the fine, $65,000, won’t be a big hit for such a large company. Besides raising fines, he’s considering a sliding scale based on company size.
Do you think OSHA fines are real motivation for companies to improve their safety? Is it different for larger vs. smaller companies? Should fines be higher for larger companies? Let me know in the Comments Box below.